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Microsoft, Google, Facebook and other tech firms are pressing lawmakers to stop prosecutors from secretly snooping on private accounts

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  1. skybrian
    From the article: [...] [...]

    From the article:

    Some tech company officials have accused prosecutors of reflexively requesting gag orders for routine investigations, regardless of whether the cases actually require such secrecy. And an array of company officials and legal experts argue that the practice robs tech company customers of their constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.


    Microsoft provided two secrecy orders to The Post with the names of the customers redacted. Each is only about four paragraphs long and declares that notifying the customer about the existence of the data request could lead to evidence tampering or flight from prosecution.

    Neither order offers any support for those claims, or any details to indicate why secrecy is necessary. Microsoft complied with both orders and notified customers of the seizure only after the orders expired.

    Microsoft said it generally complies with secrecy orders because it is legally required to do so. At Google, director of law enforcement and information security Richard Salgado said the company will challenge nondisclosure orders if there are “external signals” that the orders lack merit. For example, email addresses can indicate who the subjects or their employers are, providing an avenue for the company to argue against secrecy, said Salgado, a former federal prosecutor.

    Google’s decision to challenge the gag order on the Trump Justice Department’s subpoena for email data belonging to four reporters at the New York Times, which uses Google’s mail service, offers a rare example of such a challenge becoming public. Google won, and was able to share details of the subpoena — initially only with a Times lawyer.

    Often, however, the orders “are rather generic,” Salgado said, providing too little information for Google to mount a case.


    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is drafting a measure that would require government investigators to tell the targets of surveillance what data they gather from the tech companies within a reasonable time, much as they already do for more traditional wiretaps and bank-record subpoenas. The measure would cover demands for location records, stored emails, social media photos and other data, said a Wyden aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal bill-writing process.

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